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Everything John Calipari said about the Duke game

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During his pre-Duke press conference Monday afternoon, John Calipari talked about Mike Krysekskisiksi, the problems Duke presents, Brandon Ingram, Alex Poythress, Derek Willis, traveling after Paris attacks, and much, much more…

On being a guard-driven team like Duke …

“I wish we were playing a year ago at the end. Mike (Krzyzewski) has done a heck of a job, because when you watch the tape, they’re driving the ball. They’re running good stuff to put them in positions to drive the ball. He is mixing up their defense like I’ve never seen. They’re running a 1-3-1, 2-3, 1-2-2, 1-2-2 press, and sometimes they fake and sometimes they come. They spread out a 1-3-1. He’s trying everything to see if he figures out what he likes for the team. I imagine they’ll do it in the game. You’re going to have two driving teams. The game will probably take two-and-a-half hours because there are going to be fouls. We’re going to foul and they’re going to foul. Both teams are driving the ball. His team is driving the ball and my team is driving the ball.”

On if he feels like he and Coach K are in the same boat of trying to figure out their teams …

“We’re trying to figure it out. Just like they can’t be ready for everything because they’ve only had one day of preparation — unless they’ve prepared before the weekend games. They have nine out-of-bounds plays, four different offenses, they do two different things against a press, and they have a nice side out-of-bounds play. We’re not going to be ready for everything. It’s too early. We have Tyler (Ulis), who never started a game, and Marcus Lee, who only started a few games. Then, all the other guys are freshmen and Alex (Poythress) coming off the bench. This will be a good game. I’m anxious to see Alex. Again, an elite athlete. I don’t care about anything else. When people watch you, they say, ‘That is an athlete.’ If not, then we’re still not getting through to him.”

On the new rules with blocking and charging fouls …

“It’s not block-charge. It’s like you can’t touch anybody. You put your hands or forearm down there or hip check them and the guy’s driving and there’s body contact, then it’s an automatic foul. Maybe I’m wrong, but if we both play how we’ve been playing, then there are going to be a lot of fouls called.”

On if there were any issues in the first two games that stemmed from the new rule changes …

“We had a 30-second violation, which is unusual for us. So maybe the five seconds matter a little bit. I don’t believe so, but I just want them to continue, whether it’s my team or the other team, or if it’s both teams, call the fouls and make us adjust. That may mean that we have to play zone. That’s my job to figure it out. But I think Mike has done a fabulous job. When I watched them, he’s trying stuff. He’s not just saying, ‘We’re playing like we did the year before.’ He’s not. They’re doing some of the same actions, but the idea of what they’re doing is totally different.”

On Poythress’ performance in the Duke game in November 2012, and what he thought he had on his hands with Poythress at that point …

“I don’t do that. Alex has had an injury. He’s had a good career. Now it’s time to be great. With an injury like that — my son called me, who had the same injury, and said, ‘Dad, he’s just coming back and I know how hard it is.’ So that’s my son getting on me because I want more than maybe what he’s willing to give right now.”

On what the “guard-heavy” game will give Skal Labissiere the opportunity to do …

“Skal will have trouble with (Marshall) Plumlee, who plays very physical. It’s going to be a challenge for him. This is a grit game, a grinding game. They do a great job of wedging on rebounds. When they shoot the ball, they will wedge you all the way under to the cheerleaders. So if you’re not ready to fight they’re going to get offensive rebounds. Like I said, they’ve got good players, good shooters, size. They’re going to start 6-9, 6-9, 7 foot, and two 6-5 guards. That sounds like our team a year ago. They are big and long.”

On the pressure of Tyler Ulis and Charles Matthews playing in their hometown …

“I think Tyler will be fine. Tyler is a different cat. He has a different way of doing things, but I’m anxious for him to get home and let him see family, and Charles the same thing. It’s neat for those kids to be able to get home and play in this environment. It’s time for us to learn who’s who. I mean, Derek (Willis) has played well. Alright, Derek, he’s excited out there. I just looked at him and I said, ‘You know, I’m happy I have Derek Willis on my team.’ He laughed, but you know, let’s go do it here now. So, Jamal (Murray), Isaiah (Briscoe), you foul, you’re coming out. You better play without fouling because they’re driving. So it’ll be interesting with the stuff we have to do to and how we are going to try to feel this thing through. And the game, who knows? We’re going to try to do our stuff and they’re going to try to do their stuff. They deny a lot, they spread the court, they make it hard on catches. We’re working hard to get open. We don’t do a great job of it right now. You know, they’ll play gaps so the dribble drive is a little harder, which means it forces you into some 3s that maybe you don’t want to take. So we gotta figure some of that stuff out.”

On Duke’s play off turnovers verses how UK plays off turnovers …

“They fly. They fly up and down the court. It all depends. Our one issue is when our point guard drives, when he’s underneath the basket, to get the two and the three to go back. That’s been an issue for us right now. So if he drives and misses, it’s a good chance they’re throwing it ahead. That’s something that we have worked on, talked about, but it’s not hitting home right now.”

On his relationship with Coach K …

“I think we have a good relationship. I mean, we’re not part of the same, quote, tree. I really respect him as a coach. I respect him as a person. I told him — I did it publicly and I told him personally — what he’s done through USA Basketball for my players. Derrick Rose went from being really good to being an MVP. Anthony Davis went from ‘Who am I?’ to an all-star. DeMarcus Cousins — and I told Jerry Colangelo at the time, ‘If you put him on this team, he will be an all-star.’ They put him on USA Basketball, the kid becomes an all-star. I’ve told him both privately and publicly. I appreciate what he’s done for my guys. Now, I want John Wall in there. Let him go. Eric Bledsoe’s having an all-star year right now. I mean, Brandon Knight. We’ve got guys. Karl Towns cannot (play); he’s going to play for the (Dominican Republic), but we’ve got guys out there. Terrence Jones was so excited to be called out to play in Vegas. First thing he did was call me. ‘I just got a call coach. I want to tell you I’m here.’ We had a bite to eat and the excitement that he had that he had a chance to be in that grouping.”

On security after Paris attacks …

“I think everybody should step back and let’s evaluate security. What are we doing for security? And again, I worry about my players, our fans, my own family, that they’re there. And I think it’s something that’s not just in football and pro sports, but in college. What’s our security? What do we look like? And I think, as I say that I don’t think I’m the first person to say it, but I think we’ve all got to really look that hard and say, ‘What’s the security?’  Sad though. I mean, all this stuff just doesn’t make sense to me, but it puts us in a different mindset. Having to think at stuff like, do you really have to think about that? Yes, you do.”

On Brandon Ingram and what kind of things he presents …

“Well, obviously I know him pretty well; we recruited him. He is a terrific player, he is long and active, and he also can score the ball. Derek Willis will probably be a pretty good matchup for him. Two guys who are that size and mobile, both can score, so that could be a matchup that can be a good thing for us. Again, we are going to do what we do. We are not going to change a whole lot because we need to know if what we are doing will work. So let’s do it and do it for a whole game, and if it doesn’t work I’ll be able to come back and say, ‘Alright, we’re going to have to make some adjustments here.’ They are going to play how they play and find out what works for them. Right now they have played man-to-man defense 75 percent of the time. They’ve (also) played zone, but when you look at the numbers, their field-goal percentage defensively is better when they’re in a zone than it is man-to-man. Does that mean they’re going to come against us and say le’s just play them zone? That could happen. Now will we be prepared for it? We are as prepared as we could be — two passes and throw it to somebody and try to get a shot. We’ll just see”

On how hard is it for a coach to go into this game and say we’re going to try some stuff because I need to know if that’s going to work down the line …

“Well, we have enough within what we’re doing to keep trying. Like, if something else is not working, then we will move to something else. I’m saying how the overriding thing of how we are playing, is this the right way for this team? You know, we’re talking about Skal. If you try to make Skal Shaq, he’s not and you’re kind of cheating him. If you give him the ball at like eight or nine feet, Tim Duncan, he’s pretty good. He can make the shot, he can make a play and he’s a pretty good passer, so we’re still trying to figure out personnel. We’re a different team with Derek Willis on the court. We’re a different team with Isaiah on the court. Where do we fit in with Charles? This may be a good game for Isaac (Humphries) going against Plumlee. This may be his chance to go do his thing. All of that is out there and I just want these kids to be excited. I’m excited about this game. I woke up at 6 o’clock, like, what’s going on. I’m excited to coach this game. I don’t know if we can win the game; I just love the challenge to see where we are right now. That’s what I want them to feel. We’ve been together a month and a half and it’s a brand new team. Here’s what I would say: They listen to everything I say, so we’re going to find out if I have been saying the right stuff.”

On if the fans will get them excited …

“You know what’s crazy? The history that these guys know is like two years. You’re going to ask them, ‘Hey, do you remember (Christian) Laettner?’ ‘Who’s he?’ Those guys don’t know. They don’t know any of that stuff. If we had played them a year ago they would know, but we didn’t. The history of this stuff, it’s amazing. Like, ‘Do you know who Kareem Abdul Jabbar is?’ ‘I’m not sure.’ ‘What?’ I mean. Yes, (it does make me feel old). I throw the Wally Pipp out there and they’re like, ‘Wally Pipp?!’ ”

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR